Church Leaders deeply saddened
Statement in response to the killing of Fr Jacques Hamel in Rouen, France
We are deeply saddened to learn of the brutal murder of our brother, 84-year old priest, Fr Jacques Hamel in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Rouen, France. That a man of peace who had dedicated his life to serving people could be killed during Mass is testimony to the evil that drives the actions of those who commit such a crime. We offer our deepest sympathy to his family, friends and parishioners. We pray for the wellbeing of those who were taken hostage, their families and the entire community served by Fr Jacques; indeed we pray for the peace of France, Europe, the Middle East and the world for which Jesus, the Prince of Peace, gave his own life.
We call upon all people of goodwill to pray and work for justice and peace. In particular, we implore everyone to help people everywhere to pursue the path of peace and human flourishing – which is the will of Creator God.
The Presidents of Churches Together in England
27 July 2016
CHURCHES TOGETHER IN ENGLAND
Consultation of County and National Ecumenical Officers held on Tuesday to Thursday, 21-23 June 2016 at High Leigh, LONDON.
Churches Together in England consultation encouraged all member churches in England to mark the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 with sensitivity as we acknowledge our unity in Christ. We have learnt over the past century that unity is achieved by walking together, and we have grown in communion, friendship, reconciliation and healing. During this anniversary we want to be able to listen to the truth that is in each other, to hear our different stories, and build bridges of deeper understanding and respect. The consultation urge the member churches in England to keep this anniversary together in the spirit of five ‘R’
Rejoicing – because of the joy in the gospel which we share, and because
what we have in common is greater than that which divides; and that God is
patient with our divisions, that we are coming back together and can learn
from each other.
Remembering – because all three streams of the Reformation have their
witnesses and one church’s celebration could be another’s painful memory;
and yet all believed they acted in the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ for
Reforming – because the Church needs always to grow closer to Christ, and
therefore closer to all who proclaim him Lord, and it is by the mutual witness
of faith that we will approach the unity for which Christ prayed for his
Repenting – because the splintering of our unity led us to formulate
stereotypes and prejudices about each other’s traditions which have too often
diverted our attention from our calling as witnesses together to the mercy of
God in proclamation and service to the world.
Reconciling – because the call to oneness in Christ begins from the
perspective of unity not division, strengthening what is held in common, even
though the differences are more easily seen and experienced.
Rev.Fr.Dr.Ninan V George, Vice President Inter-Church Relations, Indian Orthodox Church UK,Europe & Africa represented the consultation.
The historic Evangelical and Orthodox Churches Leaders Meeting held at Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage on 6th June 2016 . This ecumenical meeting was led by Bishop Angaelos on behalf of the Oriental Orthodox family; Bishop Brown on behalf of the Evangelical Churches in membership of Churches Together in England; and Very Rev Nikolsky on behalf of the Eastern Orthodox family .
Rev.Fr.Dr.Ninan V George,Rev.Fr.Jacob Anish Varghese and Mrs Elizabeth Joy represented on behalf of Indian Orthodox Church-UK, Europe & Africa
I am extremely pleased to welcome Rev Fr Dr Ninan V George as he takes over the charge for Ecumenical Relations from me with effect from tomorrow – 1st June 2016. He is currently the Vicar of St Gregorios’ Indian Orthodox Church, London. I wish him all the very best as he begins to take up this role.
I take this opportunity to thank our Diocesan Bishop HG Mathews Mor Thimothios for entrusting me with this responsibility as the Deputy Secretary for Ecumenical Relations. I was appointed to this role in August 2012. I never then expected to carry out this responsibility even for few days or months as I thought circumstances will force change and will not allow a woman to be in this role. I have been proved wrong! I thank God for God’s riches blessings and guidance as I served in this role representing the UK region in many meetings and conferences.
Yes, our Church is growing and becoming more Gender sensitive. Women are slowly being accepted into higher responsible roles. I hope and pray that the future may see many more women in these responsible roles across the entire Church – Malanakara Orthodox Syrian Church popularly known as the Indian Orthodox Church. I thank our Bishop HG Mathews Mor Thimothios for taking this bold decision and supporting me in my role to function to the extent that I could. Here is the Kalpana from Thirumeni, relieving me from this role. I am extremely grateful to him for giving me this opportunity and privilege. Thanking you from the bottom of my heart Thirumeni for appointing me, a woman and supporting me to function. I hope and pray that many more women will be encouraged and chosen for varied roles for the glory of God. I would like to place on records my deep appreciation and gratitude to HG Mathews Mor Thimothios. I would also like to share here His Grace’s appreciation of my work, “We gratefully take on record our gratitude for your sincere efforts and esteemed service. Your contributions helped in enhancing the profile of Indian Orthodox Church and especially our Diocese in the ecumenical spectrum…”.
I also thank all the Achens, members of our Parishes here in UK and the ecumenical partners for enabling me to journey and contribute to the Ecumenical Life and Witness especially in and through Churches Together in England where I could play an active role. I will be continuing to Co-ordinate the Churches Combating Modern Slavery – Human Trafficking and I deem it a great privilege.
As the final update of this blog, I would like to inform that HG Mathews Mor Thimothios attended the last Enabling Group Meeting of the Churches Together in England and his participation and contributions were considered a great Blessing. One of the achievements of this meeting was ‘A new framework for local unity in mission’ which is deemed to be an exciting, significant, practical, ecumenical document. I would like to quote from CTE website: “As part of CTE’s remit to support and encourage local ecumenism, a working group of some of the National Ecumenical Officers have been working with the General Secretary. They have explored issues around local unity in mission, including the changing nature of Local Ecumenical Partnerships and the new ecumenical contexts in England.”. For a full reading please clik here.
We also have an Ecumenical Meeting of the Orthodox and Pentecostal Leaders where delegates from both the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Families will participate. This historic meeting will take place on 6th June 2016 at the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage as Bishop Angaelos has graciously agreed to host.
Among many other ecumenical events, the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation which will be celebrated in 2017. For an excellent information, reflection and statement on ‘Reformation 1517’ in England please read this article.
I am handing over this blog to Ninan Achen and wish him all the best as he takes the baton from me. Please do watch this space for more vibrant interaction and participation.
Last but not the least, I thank everyone who has journeyed through this blog as well as individually and personally guided me to do my best. I would like to thank specially Rev Fr Thomas P John, former secretary of this region and Mr Saji Varghese who was of great help in many ways for me to function successfully. Good bye as I leave this space and continue to be in God’s Mission wherever I am led by our Triune God. I am very proud to be a member of the MOSC.
I thank my very dear husband Rev Fr George Joy who brought me into this Church and has shaped me well to be what I am today. I thank God for every blessing in my life. I leave with joy, happiness, gratitude, hope and a vision where our Church will put women in the fore-front to serve God in different capacities.
– Elizabeth Joy
Deputy Secretary for Ecumenical Relations
UK region of the UK, Europe and Africa Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (MOSC) – IOC.
MOSC UK Ecumenical HIGHLIGHTS of 2015
The MOSC UK Ecumenical Relations Desk briefly highlights the major events in UK in this year 2015 with gratitude to God Almighty.
Hearty Congratulations to Ashwathy and Ancil!
This year began with the great news of two of our youth from St Thomas’ IOC, Hemel Hempstead successfully completing their class 12. Ancil Abin and Ashwathy Jacob are the first two Sunday School Students in OSSAE UK region to appear for class 12 common examination and get the prestigious Diploma which is centrally awarded by our Church – MOSC. A very hearty Congratulations to both of them for making OSSAE UK proud with their achievement. Ancil (right) and Ashwathy (left) in the picture above have made us very proud. Hope and pray they will contribute to the Ecumenical Life and witness of UK region as promising young members. We Congratulate them and wish them all the very best in their lives!
CTE Forum 2015: Churches Listening Together
Rev Fr Jacob Anish Varghese Achen represented the MOSC (IOC) and Mrs Elizabeth Joy, the National Ecumenical Officer for MOSC (IOC) attended the Forum meeting of Churches Together in England (CTE) from 28-30 September. Forum meeting brings together the maximum number of about 300 participants from the different national Member Churches, County ecumenical officers and Organisations working Ecumenically. Churches Listening Together, Forum 2015 was held at Swanwick, Derbyshire. There was a special session that brought the Orthodox and the Pentecostal Voices which was deeply appreciated by this Forum.
Gillian Crow is my Ecumenical Colleague, the National Ecumenical Officer of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) at CTE. The Forum provided a space for all delegates to understand our Ecuemnical Journey as Christians from different Denominations and to appreciate each other’s Faith journey. For a detailed information please follow the following link:
Bishop ANGAELOS Receives the OBE AWARD
On 19th October 2015, Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church UK received the OBE from Her Royal Majesty the Queen. It is indeed a proud moment for all of us as members belonging to the Oriental Orthodox Family. Bp Angaelos has been a part and parcel of our Church especially at special moments. We thank God for all his concern, care and spiritual guidance as he discharges his duties in his varied Global Ecumenical roles.
- Chair of the Council of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland (COOC) (from July 2012)
- Co-chair of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum (AOORF)
- Co-founder and co-chair of the Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum (COORF)
- Co-chair and co-founder of the Lausanne Orthodox Initiative (from Oct 12)
- Trustee of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI)
- Moderator of the Churches’ Inter-Religious Network (CIRN) for Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI)
- Scholar-Consultant on the Christian-Muslim Forum of England (CMF)
- Trustee of Aghapy TV UK
- Member of the Church of England General Synod from 2012
- Member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Religious Freedom (APPG) from 2012
- A member of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Theological Commission
- A member of the Coptic Delegation to the World Council of Churches (WCC)
- A member of a number of consultation groups and think-tanks that directly input into matters related to Christians of the Middle East, and the life of the Christian Church in the United Kingdom
- Christian Solidarity Worldwide
- Christians Aware
- Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- The Apostolic Order of St Hadrian of Canterbury
- The SAT 7 Trust
- British Egyptian Public Affairs Committee
- Embrace The Middle East from June 2012
- Awareness Foundation from October 2012
For more information about Bp Angaelos and his rich contributions to the Ecumenical Life and witness in UK and beyond, please follow the link below from where the above information is taken too:
Youth and Family Conference 2015
We were very proud to have Fr Peter Farrington as one of the leaders at the UK Family Conference 2015. Fr Dr Regi Mathew was the main Leader. It was a very enriching experience. Capturing his experience at this Family Conference, Father Peter Farrington says, “I was very pleased to have been invited to participate in the annual Indian Orthodox family conference, which took place this year at Yarnfield Park Conference Centre, near Stafford. I had been given permission to attend by H.E. Metropolitan Seraphim, and then by H.G. Bishop Angaelos, and this was a wonderful opportunity to meet old friends such as Father George Joy, of the Hemel Hempstead congregation, and to receive the blessing of H.E. Mor Thimothios, the bishop of the Indian Orthodox Church in the UK with responsibility for much of Europe and Africa as well.” For further details of his experience at our family conference, please see the following link:
All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit
The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, based in Istanbul, Turkey, is the Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome. and His All Holiness occupies the First Throne of the Orthodox Christian Church worldwide. HAH Bartholomew visited the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth palace on 2nd and 3rd November. On 3rd the Ecumenical Patriarch delivered a lecture on Environmental Issues. Mrs Elizabeth Joy attended this lecture.
Enabling Group Meeting of CTE 2015
Rev FR Ninan George attended the Enabling Group meeting of the Churches Together in England from 19-20 November 2015 at High Leigh Conference Centre. This is the highest decision making body of the CTE. Ninan Achen also attended the Annual gathering at the Lambeth Palace for a Dinner hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury on 3rd December 2015 to theEcumenical representatives from the Member Churches of CTE.
One Day Conference of the Churches Together in England on 1st December 2015
The new initiative of CTE called the Churches Combating Modern Slavery – Human Trafficking Organised the one day conference in London on the following Theme:
Changing Perspectives and Priorities: Affirming Life and Combating Modern Slavery-Human Trafficking
The young couple -Mrs Jesty Mathew and Mr Mathew Nebu from St Thomas’ IOC, Hemel Hempstead attended this conference with great enthusiasm and participated well. I hope they will take this concern seriously and work to address this issue to take it further into wider groups. I sincerely thank them for their invaluable support to this programme and their commitment.
Ms Tess Mary Thomas represented the Othodox Youth and attended the London Churches Social Action meeting on the 8th October at the Methodist Central Hall. The focuss of this meeting was on Human Trafficking. Thanks to Anish Achen for sending her. Her participation was deeply appreciated by the participants and the Organiser Rev Canon Steven Saxby. The notes of this meeting can be found in the following Link:
The joint International Commission For Theological Dialogue between The Catholic Church & The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church was held on 15 & 16 December 2015, at Mar Baselios Dyara, Njaliakuzhy, Kottayam. Our Diocesan Bishop HG Dr Mathews Mor Thimothios attended this important meeting. The delegates are seen with His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II.
Episcopal Silver Anniversary of HG Yuhanon Meletius on 23rd Dec 2015
We Congratulate our Beloved Thirumeni HG Yuhanon Meletius as he celebrated his Episcopal Silver Anniversary on 26th December 2015 at his Aramana Chapel and Diocesan Centre, Thrissur, Kerala. We Thank him for all his contributions to our Diocese right from its inception. We rejoice with him and thank God for all God’s richest blessings on him all through these 25 years as the Metropolitan of Thrissur Diocese as well as one of our senior Bishops to lead us and guide us. He has played a key role in the life of our Diocese along with few other Bishops who have contributed to the Growth of this Diocese especially the UK region. To see more on this please follow the links below:
Wishing you all a very HAPPY and Blessed NEW YEAR 2016!
31st Dec 2015
Greetings and Message from our Diocesan Metropolitan HG Dr Mathews Thimothios
GEN/15/111 17 December 2015
Blessings to the Vicars, Parish Managing Committee Members and all the faithful members of Diocese of UK- Europe and Africa:
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah. 9.6)
Dearly beloved in Lord,
Let us give thanks to the Lord Almighty for the blessing and privilege of celebrating this joyous season of the Nativity of Our Lord and the New Year. Let us praise and glorify for His copious Mercy and Blessings showered upon us. At this time of joy let us not forget to pray for our brothers and sisters those who are in war zones, facing persecution and suffering from all other forms of agony.
May we bring your thoughts to the above verses from the Holy Scripture. Indeed the Son of God is born on this earth; an infant who has all authority of the Father, Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace. In spite of having all authority and power, Our Lord empties Himself of the glory of heaven and submits Himself to be swaddled by humans. He who nourishes all of creation is humble enough to receive nourishment from Mother Mary. The birth of our Lord is the zenith of humility, which is shown through Mother Mary. Her unpretentiousness and dedication paved path for God’s plan for the salvation of the world.
Let us receive the infant Jesus in our life with preparation of our hearts so that we might be instruments of selfless love and compassion, which would empower us to strive for peace and harmony not just in our lives but also for those around us. Our commitment for this Christmas should be using every opportunity to renew our relationship with God. Peace on earth needs to start in the heart of every person. Let us journey together to the manger of Our Lord and praise God for his eternal love for us and pray for mercy upon His creation.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2016! We hope and pray that the coming year would be filled with peace and joy for you and your loved ones.
Your Spiritual Father In Christ
Mathews Mar Thimothios Metropolitan
Message and Greetings from Archbishop of Canterbury The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby
Christmas Message from the Ecumenical Desk MOSC (IOC)
‘What child is this
who laid to rest ..’?
The carol, ‘What Child is this, who laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping’? is one of my favourite since learning it in a college choir. I loved singing it both in the college as well as our church choir almost every year. However, this carol seems to have become a nightmare for me this year.
The picture of an innocent child, face down and dead on the shores of Greece this year haunts many of us. This one picture could depict well many of the unfortunate and unjust things that happened in 2015. The war in Syria with its destruction of lives, cultures, religious, social and historical monuments, and the targeted role that people played in trafficking people, and the manner in which profit is set before people in cheating them of what they have, and pushing them to uncertain and difficult realities, is deeply disturbing.
This forms the context in which we as Christians will be celebrating Christmas this year. How does Christmas or the birth of Christ become meaningful for us and others around us this year as well as in the New Year 2016? There are many ways to do it and this year I would like to reflect on mending ourselves or fixing ourselves and not others.
When I came to UK to work with the Council for World Mission (CWM) in October 2002, it was the first time I was experiencing winter away from the tropical Indian climate especially Bangalore where I was born and brought up. This was the first time in my life I had to travel by train to work. It was a very short 18 minute train journey from Baron’s Court to James’ Park. A few things caught my attention but something changed the meaning of Christmas entirely for me and made me understand what it was better than I had ever before understood. I am very grateful to God for that and share it.
Every day, as I passed through London Victoria Station, I would repeatedly hear this announcement, ‘Mind the gap, mind the Gap between the train and the platform’. Initially, it annoyed me but also it reminded me that I will have to alight at the next station!
However, as days and months passed by, I began to appreciate this announcement. It just dawned on me, how important it is to mind the gap for our own safety. Also, the transport authorities were very particular to warn the people who in their hurry can miss it. Very often in our busy life we forget to notice many things. One of these is the growing GAP in relationship between us and our loved ones, neighbours, colleagues and of course enemies too. This is true not just in our individual lives but in our corporate lives too as communities, societies and nations too.
How good it would be if someone could remind us every day to ‘mind the gap in our relationship – between husband and wife, parents and children, siblings, colleagues, employees and employers, men and women in relation to discrimination including wages, understanding sexuality; between Nations that struggle to bridge the gap of hostility and enmity. This is what exactly happened in the Garden of Eden after the fall when Adam and Eve along with the whole of creation became estranged from God. There was a huge GAP and it had to be bridged.
The event which initiated this process of bridging the gap is Incarnation through which God became a human person, Immanuel – ‘God with us’. This is what the daily announcement ‘Mind the Gap’ convinced me of, and I treasure this conviction.
Bridging the gap in relationship demands two actions from parties concerned at any level. Firstly, ‘giving’ for after all Christmas began with giving – ‘For God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten son…’ (John 3:16). Secondly, it demands ‘Forgiving’ – the ability to reconcile, forgive, love and let others live. If we strive to bridge the gap in our relationships, we need to remember that this will involve giving respect, lost identities, resources and opportunities to get back to a normal life. This demands a compassionate look at what we have caused in the name of development, liberation or even achieving peace. Giving will include restoring. This will then lead to forgiving – from both parties, at different levels, as no one individual or group can be totally just, pure or right.
This needs to happen in every home, community, society and nation. What prevents us from doing this? We fail to notice the problems within us and begin to reform others, specifically those with whom we need to reconcile! This is very similar to the story that Jesus says, trying to take out the spec in another person’s eye when we have a log in our own eye. We are very keen that the other person, community or nation has to repent, change or be transformed.
Christmas reiterates the process of Theosis which is important in the Orthodox faith and understanding. Theosis is the process where we believe that God became a human being that we may become one like God. Theosis is the goal of Spirituality in the Oriental Orthodox Faith. It is not becoming God but like God. Incarnation, whereby God took flesh and became a human person in order that the existing gap can be bridged and we can grow in our faith and action to be like God. So, if we begin to understand why God became a human person and see where we have gone wrong to fix that first, we will be able to bring about Transformation.
May this season of ‘Giving and Forgiving’ enable us to ‘MIND THE GAP’ in all our relationships and bridge the gap with LOVE. May the birth of Christ bridge every gap that keeps us as communities and nations at war with each other leading us to experience the peace that passes all understanding.
Wishing you a very Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year 2016!
NEO, MOSC (Indian Orthodox Church) and a Volunteer at CTE for CCMS HT
Wishing you very Joyous Christmas and a Blessed New Year 2016!